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Daily Israel Report

Israeli Woman Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Israeli Prof. Ada Yonath was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday for "studies of the structure of the ribosome."
By Zalman Nelson
First Publish: 10/7/2009, 1:44 PM / Last Update: 10/7/2009, 2:00 PM

Prof. Ada Yonath of Israel has won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, it was announced Wednesday. She and two Americans, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas Steitz, were awarded the prize for "studies of the structure of the ribosome” which translates the DNA code into life.

According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the group’s work has been fundamental to the scientific understanding of life, and has helped researchers develop antibiotic cures for various diseases. The laureates successfully generated three-dimensional models that show how different antibiotics bind to ribosomes.

Prof. Yonath is only the fourth woman to win the chemistry Nobel Prize, and the first since 1964. The winners will split a $1.4 million purse, receive diplomas, and are invited to the prize ceremonies in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of award founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

“We are extremely proud of you," President Shimon Peres said in a phone conversation with Yonath on Wednesday. |It’s the first time that a researcher from the Weizman Institute has been awarded the Nobel Prize and I’m happy that in your merit the door has been opened to this award."

The chemistry award is the third Nobel Prize to be announced this year. On Monday, three American scientists shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering a key mechanism in the genetic operations of cells which inspired new research into cancer and aging. The physics prize went to three other Americans who created the technology behind digital photography and fiber-optic networks; Israeli Prof. Yakir Aharonov was nominated for the prize for his work in quantum mechanics, but did not win it.

The prize in literature and the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced later this week. Israeli author Amos Oz is believed to be a strong favorite to be honored in the literature division. Oz has written numerous novels on the peace process, which he strongly backs, and on life in Israel.